OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (PAMACC News) - Forest experts in Africa have reiterated the need to reinforce efforts in sustainable land use and forest management in the continent to secure a better future. The experts were speaking at a workshop organised by African Forest Forum (AFF) from June 6 to 10, 2022 at Pacific Hotel, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The regional workshop according to AFF was to share the conclusions and recommendations of studies conducted over the past three years as part of two funded projects, one by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the other by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Held under the theme “state of the African forest,” experts exchanged and shared information on the state of the African forest, the challenges and potential solutions.
According to Maries Louis Avana-Tientcheu of AFF, “the lives of many Africans depend on forest resources and therefore ensuring its sustainable management is guaranteeing the future of the population and especially those who directly survive from it.”
According to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), over two-thirds of Africa's 600 million people rely directly and indirectly on forests for their livelihoods, including food security, thus the need to protect and preserve the continent's rich forest resources.
Coming on the heels of the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) known as COP27 in Egypt, the experts agreed it was time for forest stakeholders in Africa to be abreast with the intricacies of land use and forest management in order to find lasting solutions that will improve the livelihood of the population and especially those who depend on the forest for survival.
African Forest Forum is sensitizing its members and other forest stakeholders on the stakes of the upcoming COP27 in Egypt.
“This is very important for us because it is taking place in Africa and it is an opportunity for forest stakeholders in the continent to make maximum benefits of the COP27,” says Maries Louis Avana-Tientcheu
According to statistics from CIFOR, Africa has an estimated 624 million ha of forest, 98 .8 per cent of which are natural forests. Forests types and cover include rainforests and other humid forests; dryland forests; savannahs and woodlands; mountain forests; mangrove forests; and plantations.
Unfortunately, Africa’s forest sector is, however, faced with many challenges that constrain its capacity to provide meaningful and sustainable ecosystem services including contributing to socio-economic development.
The continent’s forest area declined by 2 .8 million ha per year between 2010 and 2019, a much higher rate than anywhere else in the world, the CIFOR report says.
Environment experts have therefore not ceased reiterating the need for restraint in land and forest use by governments and other stakeholders.
Cameroon for example counts about 22.5 million hectares of humid forests with deforestation of over 0.8% per year between 2000 and 20016, according to statistics from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.
Forest experts say in a fragmented context where forestry policies compete with other development sectors' policies whose implementation involves deforestation or forest degradation, a better understanding of the socio-economic importance of forests and their effective incorporation in national accounts are key pieces of information in determining policy options on land use allocation.
“ Forest Stakeholders need to understand the socio-economic importance of the forest to guide their decision making and policy formulation,” says Achile Baudelaire Momo, Consultant at World Resource Institute, Yaounde.
“There is a need for win-win solutions which we can and must scale up, to feed the world without destroying our forests,” he noted.
At the XV World Forestry Congress last month in Seoul, Korea, forest experts emphasized the need for stakeholders to overcome setbacks and drive solution-oriented policies to protect forest resources.
“No matter which crises we are facing – a pandemic, conflicts, climate change – and their resulting economic recession and food insecurity, we must consider our forests and our natural resources as part of the solution and integrate them into recovery plans and strategies.” Says Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, FAO.
The African Forest Forum (AFF), also known as African Forestry Forum, it should be recalled, is an association of individuals who are committed to advancing the sustainable management, use and conservation of the forest and tree resources of Africa for the socio-economic wellbeing of its peoples and for the stability and improvement of its environment.
The purpose of the forum is to provide a platform and create an enabling environment for independent and objective analysis, advocacy and advice on relevant policy and technical issues.
The goal is to galvanize the African voice and opinion and mobilize resources on forestry and related issues that cut across countries and regions with a view of enhancing the relevance and contribution of forestry to the people of Africa and their environment.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Individuals, communities, civil society, businesses and governments around the world marked World Environment Day under the theme #OnlyOneEarth, with official celebrations held in Stockholm and host country Sweden announcing a ban on issuing new licenses for the extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas from 1 July this year to protect people and planet.
Announcing the ban at the official Word Environment Day celebrations in Stockholm, Sweden’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Annika Strandhäll, said, “Making the green jobs of the future by accelerating the climate transition is one of the top priorities for the Swedish government. As part of our efforts to implement our climate ambitions, we must take actions against activities that have a negative impact on our health and our environment.”
“Our message to the global community is clear. The winners in the global race will be the ones that speed up the transition, not the ones that lag behind and cling to a dependency on fossil fuels,” she added.
Tens of millions of people around the world joined global conversations on social media demanding urgent action to conserve and restore the environment. Tens of thousands organized their own activities, including the planting of millions of trees, cleaning trash and taking actions to highlight that there is #OnlyOneEarth.
2022 marks the 49th time World Environment Day has been celebrated. It was established following the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, and is celebrated annually on 5 June, with a different country hosting it each year. This year’s theme – #OnlyOneEarth – mirrors the theme of the first World Environment Day in 1973. It calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.
“Fifty years ago, the world’s leaders came together at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and committed to protecting the planet. But we are far from succeeding. We can no longer ignore the alarm bells that ring louder every day,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his World Environment Day message.
“The recent Stockholm+50 environment meeting reiterated that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals rely on a healthy planet,” he added. “We must all take responsibility to avert the catastrophe being wrought by the triple crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.”
The official event, held at the Tekniska Museet in Stockholm, included a discussion between Ms. Strandhäll, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and young people.
“The triple planetary crisis is accelerating, and why? Because we consume 1.7 planets a year. We have only one Earth. We have to accept that we're not doing enough to protect it,” Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said at the event. “I stand before you because we have to do better. We know what to do. The science has told us we have to end fossil fuels. We have to restore nature to its full glory. We have to transform our food systems. We have to make our cities green.”
Around the world, countries and communities acted on World Environment Day to make a real difference to their environments. Religious leaders came together to sign a landmark appeal on climate-responsible finance. These organisations will only engage with financial institutions that are aligned with the Paris Agreement objective of limiting global warming to 1.5° C.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the LiFe initiative to raise awareness about sustainable lifestyles.
New Zealand’s Government announced on World Environment Day that the Styx Living Laboratory and partners will receive $4.12 million of Jobs for Nature funding to protect the Styx River (Pūharakekenui).
Argentina has adopted the exotic invasive species national strategy, including joint management plans with Chile, while Paraguay will launch the Paraguay + Verde project to address climate change after receiving financial support of US$50 million from the Global Environment Facility.
To commence on World Environment Day, Singapore’s Quest Global, one of the world’s fastest growing engineering services firms, announced its Quest Global Pledge – a global reforestation drive. In partnership with One Tree Planted, the firm will plant 500,000 trees globally by 2025.
In conjunction with the United Nations Association Canada, and with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, an official event will launch a curriculum on Indigenous Conservation across Canada.
Uruguay announced that it will start participatory processes towards work on its second Nationally Determined Contributions towards the Paris Agreement Goals.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) today in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.
“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Espen Barth Eide. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”
The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will convene a forum by the end of 2022 that is open to all stakeholders in conjunction with the first session of the INC, to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world. It will facilitate open discussions and ensure they are informed by science, reporting on progress throughout the next two years. Finally, upon completion of the INC’s work, UNEP will convene a diplomatic conference to adopt its outcome and open it for signatures.
“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” Andersen added.
Plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522.6 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. The impacts of plastic production and pollution on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution are a catastrophe in the making:
- Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity, and open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution.
- By 2050 greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 per cent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (34.7°F).
- More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.
- Some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This may triple by 2040.
- A shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80 per cent by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55 per cent; save governments US$70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent; and create 700,000 additional jobs – mainly in the global south.
The historic resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2 meeting, attended by more than 3,400 in-person and 1,500 online participants from 175 UN Member States, including 79 ministers and 17 high-level officials.
The Assembly will be followed by “UNEP@50,” a two-day Special Session of the Assembly marking UNEP’s 50th anniversary where Member States are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As the world prepare for the United Nation’s led summit to discuss global food and nutrition security, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has pointed out key issues that must be addressed for Africa to attain resilient and sustainable food systems.
During the presidential summit at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which was hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by Presidents of Malawi, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda, Museveni said that the issue of sustainable food systems in Africa was a multidimensional one and should be addressed at different levels.
“The first issue is seeds,” said the president, noting that there is need for African countries to invest in improved seeds and agricultural research. “Fortunately in Uganda we have research institutions, and they have handled the issue of improved seeds for many crops,” he said.
Museveni noted that apart from seeds, countries must address the issue of good agronomic practices, which include control of soil erosion, retention of soil moisture use of recommended farm inputs, good crop and animal husbandry among others.
“We also must address the issue of storage and post harvest handling,” he said. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates from 2011 suggest that as much as 37 percent of food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost between production and consumption. Estimates for cereals are 20.5 percent.
African countries were also asked to embrace farm mechanization and work towards improving the transport systems, particularly the roads and the railway system for easy trade of food commodities.
To sustain food productivity without relying on climatic conditions, the head of state observed that the UN Food Systems Summit must address the issue of irrigation in African countries. Studies have so far shown that in the Sub Saharan Africa region, less than four percent of the area cultivated is equipped for irrigation.
“Some countries like Uganda have sufficient food and we even have surplus. So I urge the Heads of States to address the issue of markets for such countries. Farmers can only produce better if they are sure that they have the market for their produce,” said President Museveni.
So far, the Africa Union has already formed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with an aim of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Other issues discussed at the AGRF high level summit include the use of recommended fertilisers, control of crop pests and diseases, soil mapping to understand which food grows better where, overfishing particularly on Lake Victoria, and sufficient electricity supply in all African countries to facilitate food processing.
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta called on African leaders to prioritise initiatives that will cause inclusive agricultural transformation.
“In order to overcome (some of the) negative perceptions (about agriculture in Kenya) and to show our children and youth the nobility and profitability of agriculture, we are elevating the place of agriculture in our schools by revitalizing the 4-K-Clubs,” said the Head of State.
President Kagame of Rwanda noted that transforming food systems is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “Some 70 percent of African adults work in agriculture and agribusiness sectors. So if they are not doing well, then Africa is not doing well,” he said.
He observed that Africa needs a transformation on how food systems in Africa are organised. “We must ensure that everyone has access to the food they need on an equitable and affordable basis. For Africa, this means importing less food because we are capable of growing more than what we consume,” he said.
As part of the contributions to the UN Food Systems Summit, the 2021 AGRF conference is expected to yield tangible and concrete outcomes in four areas that include equitable and inclusive livelihoods, build forward better, healthy people and planet, and sustainable food systems.
The UN Food Systems Summit will take place during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23. It will seek to set the stage for global food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.